Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday Tune: "Forever Young" by Youth Group

With one song and one video ("Forever Young"), the Australian pop band Youth Group takes me back to the summer of 1977.  As if caught in the frame of a yellow-hued Polaroid, I listen to their 2006 remake of Alphaville's synth-pop hit, and suddenly I'm there standing in line to see Star Wars (once, twice, thrice) at the Jackson Hole Cinema.  In Florida, Anita Bryant crusades against gay rights; Watergate's criminals swap their white collars for prison jumpsuits; and oil starts flowing through the Trans-Alaska pipeline.  Elvis Presley dies; three days later, Groucho Marx has his last laugh.
Let's dance in style, let's dance for a while
Heaven can wait, we're only watching the skies
Hoping for the best, but expecting the worst
Are you gonna drop the bomb or not
In 1977 I'm young enough that nuclear fears are remote, grown-up issues; Watergate sounds like something to do with irrigation ditches in a rancher's field; and I have never seen a Marx Brothers movie.

At that point, I am forever young.

Debbie Boone sings "You Light Up My Life" from every transistor radio and I walk the streets of a small town, collecting pull tabs from pop-top soda cans in order to make a chain-link curtain for my bedroom's doorway (just one of the odd hobbies of my youth).  Everything in my memory of that summer is sun-drenched--the movies (Rollercoaster, The Deep, Smokey and the Bandit, and especially the saga of a galaxy far, far away), the songs, the books I read, and those aimless summer-night walks from my neighborhood to the town square where kids my age hung out at the elkhorn arches and made fun of the tourists filtering down from Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.  And on the soundtrack of those sun-splashed days I can still hear the rumble of skateboard wheels over the calliope music of Atari arcade games.

This is something which the "Forever Young" video from Youth Group captures so perfectly.  Using footage from Australia's first skateboarding contest held New South Wales in 1975, "Forever Young" is a dreamy, mellow-yellow trip back to pre-Internet days when a skateboard was a boy's best friend.  Watching this video, you can practically hear the low grumble of wheels and the harsh scrape of wipeouts on the pavement.  I honestly can't think of a better blend of image and song in all the videos I've watched over the years.

On a darker note, the summer of '77 was also the time when the Son of Sam spread his reign of terror through New York City.  Listening to Youth Group's "Forever Young," you can almost forget about David Berkowitz's horrific crime spree.  The sunny, nostalgic video takes us back to the better days of our youth, one where bad things were held at bay and the future looked bright.

"Forever Young" comes off the group's 2006 Casino Twilight Dogs album, which is consistently good (I especially like the other cuts "Sorry" and "Catching and Killing").  If you'd like to order "Forever Young" from Amazon, CLICK HERE.

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